Upon the introduction of the stunning new Series 452 V16 at the New York Auto Show on January 4th 1930, Cadillac assumed the command of the hotly contested American luxury car marketplace. With this, the world’s first purpose-built V16 engine, Cadillac triggered a “cylinder war” among its competitors, but despite the best efforts from the likes of Packard, Marmon and Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac maintained a firm grip on its crown. The centerpiece of the new car was of course the Owen Nacker-designed 452 cubic-inch overhead valve 45-degree V16 that delivered its incredible 175 horsepower with unrivaled smoothness and panache. Not only was this a powerful engine, but it was also beautiful, with particular effort given to hiding the plumbing and wiring while and dressing the engine with black enamel and polished metal. Cadillac preferred not to publish performance figures for the Sixteen, rather letting the car speak for itself, which it did so quite handily. Many independent coachbuilders made their mark on this magnificent chassis, but most clients selected from the wide variety of custom-catalog bodies offered by in-house coachbuilders Fleetwood and Fisher; which today are no less elegant or desirable. This striking 1930 Cadillac Series 452 is chassis number 700859, fitted from new with body Style 4375 from the Fleetwood catalog; a handsome and imposing Formal Inside-Drive Limousine with divider window and opera seats. Riding atop a 148-inch wheelbase and finished in an attractive black and silver livery, this wonderful Cadillac certainly makes a dramatic statement. A copy of the original build sheet indicates number 700859 was delivered new through Collins Bros. Co. of Portland, Oregon. Some gaps in the history remain, but from the mid-1970s, the Cadillac was kept as part of a collection for the better part of 25 years, and was restored to the current condition circa 1990 from what a very sound and original car. In 2001, 700859 joined a prominent Canadian collection, and the owner set about sorting the car mechanically to ensure a rewarding drive. It was shown at the 2002 Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance where it earned a Lion Award for its exceptional beauty and presentation. It eventually became part of the J. Taylor Auto Collection museum, where it was kept in fine order. Today, this handsome formal Cadillac presents in attractive condition, with very good quality paintwork and detailing. The black fenders and upper surfaces are excellent, showing beautifully straight and properly aligned panels. The silver body sides and accents are also very good, with only a few minor touchups to be found upon close inspection. Fleetwood’s styling is quite elegant and graceful, a beautiful design that avoids staid or awkward lines that sometimes afflict formal body styles of the period. The black and silver livery is handsome, and the car’s painted silver wire wheels and wide-whitewall tires add a finely judged touch of class. At $6,525, this was a massively expensive car in its day, and is suitably accessorized to reflect its stature. Dual Trippe-Light driving lamps, dual chrome trumpet horns, Tilt-Ray headlamps, a Goddess radiator mascot, dual side mount spares with mirrors and a large painted trunk count among the adornments. In mechanical terms, this Cadillac is in fine order, with a strong running V16 engine that shows well in the engine bay with a factory appropriate detailing and moderate patina from use since the restoration was completed. The chassis is equipped with four wheel, vacuum assisted mechanical drum brakes and hydraulic dampers to ensure smooth, safe handling that can keep pace with the power of the V16 engine. The undercarriage is tidy and clean, again showing some light use in the time since its restoration. As appropriate for a formal limousine, the chauffeur’s compartment is upholstered in black leather which shows in very good condition today. An array of attractive original instruments is flanked by engine turned panels and beautiful wood trim runs across the top of the dash and doors. Rear passengers are treated to luxurious accommodations. Gray cloth upholstery, which is in excellent order, covers the door panels, seats and headlining. Dual, forward-facing “opera seats” fold from the floor to accommodate two additional passengers, and an umbrella holder is incorporated into the central division, placed curb-side, of course. Other amenities include a dome light, central folding arm rest, beautifully restored wood trim and a Fleetwood branded Jaeger 8-day clock. With its handsome formal coachwork and high quality older restoration, this Cadillac V16 by Fleetwood is a very usable example of this iconic classic motorcar. As a recognized Full Classic and with its pleasingly mellowed restoration, it is ideally suited for CCCA CARavan touring and similar events, a practical and beautifully presented machine from the pinnacle of the American Classic Era.
Cadillac’s V16 range first appeared in 1930, and after initially strong sales, production had dwindled as the American economy struggled and such lavish motorcars were generally frowned upon by even the wealthiest of buyers. However, in spite of its costly nature, the V16 still served its role as a halo model for Cadillac, so it remained available through the decade. For the 1938 model year, Cadillac completely redesigned the car with an all new engine and body design. Displacing 431 cubic inches, the new V16 was a more conventional design, with a simple side-valve configuration in a rather unusual 135-degree cylinder bank angle. The engine produced 185 horsepower (about 10 more than the old unit) and weighed a staggering 250 pounds less than the original V16. It was also significantly cheaper for Cadillac to produce, and therefore more profitable. As America was recovering from the Great Depression, this proved the right move for Cadillac and for buyers who wanted the prestige of the famous V16, yet in a slightly more affordable package. Sixteen cylinder Series 90 models rode on the same basic chassis and 141 inch wheelbase as the V8 Series 75, which allowed for sharing of bodies from the Fleetwood and Fisher catalog. Twelve catalog body styles were available for the 1938-1939 model years, all designed under the guidance of the masterful Bill Mitchell, protégé of Harley Earl. Of those bodies, one of the rarest and most expensive was Style Number 9067, the stunning Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood. The streamline era was taking full effect by 1938, with the front fenders and radiator grille becoming fully enveloped into one. Headlights were still separately mounted but were soon to be fully integrated into the fenders as well. Dual sidemount spares were still fitted, but concealed beneath painted steel covers. Stylistically, the 1938 Cadillac bridged the gap between the traditional classic era and the post-war streamlined style. The Convertible coupe in particular, has incredible presence; it is a large car, with its two-seat body style stretched dramatically over the 141-inch wheelbase chassis. Just ten examples were built in 1938 making it among the rarest and most desirable of the series. This beautiful Cadillac Series 90 is one of those ten original Convertible Coupes bodied by Fleetwood in 1938. It is a very attractive car wearing a high-quality older restoration that has recently been sorted for reliable and enjoyable touring. Original build sheets indicate this car (engine number 5270250) was first delivered to Rochester New York, painted in Moleskin Gray as indicated on both the build sheet and the original Fleetwood trim tag. By the 1960s the car had found its way to Pennsylvania when it was discovered along the side of the PA Turnpike by noted early CCCA member Ted Johnson. Mr. Johnson rescued the Cadillac from the roadside and had it restored by George Holman of Massachusetts. Mr. Holman subsequently purchased the car, eventually trading it to Rick Carroll, a well-known collector from Jensen Beach, Florida. Today, this beautiful Cadillac presents in very good condition, still wearing its older restoration well. The bright red paint suits the sporting nature of the body quite well, and while it does show extensive cracking in the lacquer finish, it remains glossy and attractive. The body fit is good, and the panels very straight, showing the car was properly restored and carefully tended to since. Chrome trim remains generally very good with a few areas of minor pitting or bubbling found here and there, but overall still glossy and attractive. Bumpers are straight and gorgeous and the lovely cast grille shows only the slightest of age. A pair of Guide Super Ray driving lamps are fitted and the car retains its correct original headlamp lenses. On the whole, it is a lovely, imposing car that turns heads and while it shows its age in places, remains quite attractive overall. Inside, the brown leather shows just some minor creasing and slight cracking, with some wear evident around the edges of the front seats. It retains a pleasing patina that does not detract from the inviting, usable nature of this Cadillac. Door panels and kick panels are in excellent condition and pair of jump seats are fitted in the rear for occasional rear passengers. The woodgrain dash is beautifully preserved with excellent finish and lovely original instruments. Paint and chrome finishes inside are very good, as is the original Banjo-style steering wheel. Cadillac’s 431 cubic inch L-head V16 is very nicely presented, with correct type finishes and paint. The presentation is excellent and the engine has benefitted from recent servicing and sorting. Some of the work performed in the last few years includes a full fuel system flush with a new fuel tank, rebuilt shock absorbers, new front springs, new wide whitewall tires, rebuilt brake hydraulics, rebuilt carburetor and a full chassis service with cleaned and greased lubrication points. It now performs beautifully and is a delight to drive, especially given the 185 horsepower output and silken delivery from the V16. An approved CCCA Full Classic, this exceedingly rare and imposing Series 90 is an excellent candidate for CARavan touring or for simply wafting along your favorite roads, enjoying the effortless power and impeccable style of this beautiful Cadillac.